VNPF spent VT210M on student accommodation
By Anita Roberts
The Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) has spent over VT210 million so far this year on the accommodation costs of its funded scholarship students at universities in Vanuatu and abroad.
Over 1,000 students are studying under the Members Education Support Scheme (MESS). Monitoring results and the types and costs of accommodation for students abroad are issues which need to be addressed, stressed the VNPF General Manager (GM), Parmod Achary.
“The problem we had is that, there has been no monitoring of students’ results and we are not sure of where they were staying, whether the accommodations are safe and not overcrowded,” he said.
“Another issue is not paying tuition on time. Students SOL accounts are usually placed on hold when we do not pay fees on time. This can result in students missing out on lectures and assignments.
“It’s important that we (VNPF) get the accommodation and tuition fee invoices on time, to avoid threats or evictions by the landlords.
“VNPF and the University of the South Pacific (USP) cannot be blamed for the deactivation of students’ SOL accounts.
“The students have the responsibility to provide us the invoices immediately once they secured accommodation and enrolled for courses.
“Normally under MESS, the pre-departure briefings are done by the Ministry of Education. Now VNPF will do it and will be able to outline this to the students.
“In terms of the results, they will have to provide them to us before proceeding to the next semester.”
GM Achary said VNPF will be sorting this out now that it will be operating the scheme independently, under the new name ‘Student Education Support Scheme’ (SESS).
Under the loan scheme, students will be dealing directly with VNPF. Current students will be transferred to the new scheme.
According to the GM, VNPF has already settled the VT32 million tuition outstanding for students at USP Emalus Campus in Port Vila.